Friday, July 16, 2010

Life is what happens when you are making other plans

Earlier this month, I wrote a blog post on building community. In that post, I lamented that even a social networking site like Facebook does not seem to allow me to build a community the way I would like or had hoped to. From there I go on to explain why that might be and point out a community of writers would be great because it could help all its members write, publish, and sell the work of the members.

Whether you read the original post or not, it appears some people did and they liked it... a lot. The next day, I found one of my Facebook friends had linked to it on his wall. I was surprised. That was a first, for me at least. Then one of his FB friends read it and loved it. So much so that she took action and creating a writers' group on Facebook. Again, I was surprised. It is not often one's writing spurs others into action.

But, as I pointed in a comment or a follow up post, even this is not enough. We need people to participate in the group. Without people actively posting items and reviewing the work of others, this group is no better than any other on Facebook. And I cannot help but wonder if the group can even survive. (Yes, I know it hasn't been two weeks since the original post but already the group seems to have stagnated)

Perhaps, the majority of writers on Facebook are there because they self-publish and promote themselves independently of any publisher and do not want a group to participate in. I certainly get that feeling. Perhaps a group to help writers write better, get published, and sell their work is not needed. Perhaps the very solitary nature of writing precludes the possibility that writers can form a community.

Perhaps. But I don't think so. Most writers I know like to talk to other writers because we all learn from one another. That fundamental point is the real push behind all this. Why don't we gather a large number of writers together so we can talk, at the very least?

Are people that busy that they cannot take a few minutes out of everyday to share experiences with others? Or is the computer screen a barrier for most? It would be an interest social experiment to get there same people in the sample physical location and see if they came together.

Frankly, I think people don't push themselves out of whatever comfort zone they make for themselves and it is high time they did. All writers need to network and build bridges to other writers, to readers, to editors and publishers, to the community as a whole. We need to be connected because ultimately it makes us better writers and better people.

Facebook offers us a simple way to come together, one that may not be nature for wordsmiths in general. But we must go places we are uncomfortable to learn and explore the experience. So please go to Facebook and join the Writer's Haven group. Help all of us come together and let's see what will happen.

With luck, we'll all be surprised.


Anonymous said...

I spend a huge amount of time interacting with other writers on facebook. I'm not self-published, or traditionally published at this point, and face the usual struggles involved in trying to get past that initial hurdle. I did try to get my writer friends to join that group you mentioned, but some were reluctant to join a closed group, and others are already heavily involved in other groups.

The other problem with groups is that they lack intimacy. I have developed some very strong bonds with writers I have met through groups, but most of our communication goes on outside of the group, so that we can get more up close and personal. There are some things people just don't want to share with other people until they have a better understanding of that person, especially when the occasional person is just overly negative and hostile at all times. A group tends to leave you wide open to commentary from people you don't know at all, making it difficult to guage what is being said and in what context it should be considered. Some of the more solitary artisits are especially uncomfortable with that.


feitelberg said...

All good points. Thanks for sharing this. This points to yet another aspects I had not considered. People, by their very nature may be reluctant or hesitant to join a group because they don't know the others involved.

Lack of intimacy is also a good one. I alluded to that a little bit, as the computer screen is a barrier. The technology that allows us to communicate and share also makes that sharing impersonal.

It makes my comment about getting people in the same physical location look better and better.